Pluggie the Fireplug robot arrived in Carson City last month. He lives at fire station No. 1, and sleeps in the hosebed of one of the fire trucks.
Pluggie made his first personal appearance recently at the Boys & Girls Club near the fire station. He and his fire-safety message were warmly welcomed by the children there.
"We didn't get him because he's a nice to have. This little guy captures attention," said Tom Tarulli, the fire department's public education instructor. He and Duane Lemons, fire prevention inspector, are the robot's primary handlers.
"A lot of kids won't come up to us because they're shy. The robot draws them over so we can teach them about fire safety," Lemons said.
How old are you?
10 years old.
Where did you come from?
The Robotronics Inc., factory in Springville, Utah. I went to Fire Safety Education School there, too. I cost the fire department $5,500, plus shipping and handling.
Why are you here?
I'm here to teach fire safety to children and adults. I spend a lot of time studying up on fire safety so I know what I'm talking about. And I do homework, even though I've graduated and it's summer. I'll be going to special events around the city to spread the word. Come and say hello!
What can you do?
Speak. Roll. Spin. Dance a little. Squirt water at people. Imitate a siren. I'm designed for rolling in parades. And I play music. The "Firefighter Song" is one of my favorites, and it's sung to "I'm a Little Teapot":
"I'm a little firefighter on the go.
Here is my helmet.
Here is my hose.
When I see a fire,
Hear me shout:
'Turn on the water
and put the fire out!'
What's your favorite food?
What's your favorite color?
Yellow. The color of the Carson City fire trucks.
Do you like it here in Carson City?
I love it here. There are lots of children to visit and teach fire safety to, so I'll have plenty to do.
How do you like living at the fire department?
They take good care of me. They keep me full of water and keep my batteries charged.
How do you like your co-workers?
They're OK. I have a lot of people to play with, but some of them are jealous because I have a siren and they don't. They're just not as cute as I am.
Why is fire safety so important?
I don't want to lose any of my friends because they were playing with matches and lighters.
What is one of the most important things for children to remember when it comes to fire safety?
Matches and lighters are tools, not toys. If you smell smoke or see smoke in your home, get out and stay out! And have an escape plan so you'll know what to do if there is a fire.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hang out. Have fun. I also try to avoid dogs - especially after they've had a lot of water to drink.
How long do you plan on staying in Carson City?
A long time. There's always going to be a need for my fire-safety message. I'm supposed to go back to the factory and get checkups sometimes, but I can visit some of my old friends, like Andy the Ambulance, Barney the School Bus and Coasty the Safety Boat.